Today, I introduce the beautiful garden and fantasy themed pottery of Karrita Renzelmann of Queen Bee Pottery. Karrita lives and works in tropical Florida and is inspired by her love of gardening and literature.
Hi, I’m Karrita Renzelmann, the maker behind Queen Bee Pottery.
We have something in common. We both previously worked for United Airlines as flight attendants. My own clay journey is full of starts and pivots. How did you find clay and make the transition?
Cindy, I think that this is such an interesting coincidence that we both had long careers flying with United Airlines and both ended up working in pottery. I often miss flying to some unknown international city for a day or two of exploration, but probably wouldn’t have discovered clay if I were still flying.
I found clay when my husband surprised me with a pottery wheel for my birthday in 2006. I had recently resigned from flying and now had the ability to be home consistently and take a weekly class in ceramics & pottery at the local community college. It was love at first touch!
I’m always interested in how people name their creative businesses and I love the name of your’s, Queen Bee Pottery! How did you settle on a name for your pottery?
I have a deep connection to nature, gardening and femininity. I thought that the name ‘Queen Bee Pottery’ combined those pieces of me well and also had a memorable ring to it. Although, I did question the common connotation of what a ‘Queen Bee’ can be thought of in our society. I chose to go with it and let my work convey what Queen Bee Pottery means to me.
Your work has a really strong theme – everything to do with the garden. This must really help you organize the items that you make. Can you explain how your garden and love of plants influences your work?
Plants, nature and blooming flowers are what visually bring me the most comfort and wonder in life, and I somehow hope to convey a bit of those feelings in what I create with clay. We have the toads in the garden, so we need a toad abode, then we have the flower fairy spirits in the blossoms, so of course, we need a few fairy houses and then there’s the birds, and the lizards, and it goes on and on with all the inspiration to be found in a garden.
When my daughter was younger, we loved making fairy houses in our garden after reading several books about garden fairies at our local library. We would also construct them at nearby parks out of found materials. You make delightful ceramic fairy houses that are becoming collector items for your fans. How and why did you start delving into fantasy?
I think my curiosity and imagination were piqued by fantasy as a child, starting with classic fairy tales, flower fairy images for the alphabet created by Cicely M Barker, and continuing with books in the science fiction and magical realism genres…I’m still a sucker to this day for anything by Alice Hoffman or Marion Zimmer Bradley. The love of magical realism meets the love of nature when I see flowers blooming and imagine Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words “Earth Laughs in Flowers.” Sounds a bit saccharine, but really is true for me.
I bet you remember the excitement your daughter had about fairies and creating spaces for them…there’s something magical about a child’s unquestioning belief. I recently made a fairy house for my 4 nieces and threw them a fairy garden making party…their glee, curiosity and belief were priceless to witness and be a part of!
You have a second successful Etsy Shop where you sell bisque clay sprig molds, clay texture rollers and press molds. Why did you decide to dip your toes into the ceramic supply realm?
I took a bas-relief tile making workshop given by an amazing potter named, Jan Kolenda. I used the skills learned from that workshop to start making ceramic sprigs for my own work and then realized that I had a product to offer to the clay community that no one else was offering at the time. The bonus part for me is that sales of the bisque sprigs can support purchasing all the clay and glaze I needed for the Queen Bee Pottery business.
Do you sell any of the sprigs that you use in your own work in your supply shop? If so, are you worried that others will try to replicate your style?
I don’t offer sprig molds in the ClayStamps.etsy.com shop that I use in my own work. They say, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. Sometimes I have wondered with mild irritation why someone would copy, but now I try to look at it as just sharing inspiration.
People have reached out from across the world to show me photos of their work, modeled from mine, who were just plain excited to have been inspired from my work and share that with me. There’s something special about that kind of invisible interchange. We have no control over what others will do and in the end, the feeling and vibe in one’s work really can’t be replicated.
What do you do for fun outside of pottery?
I love to garden, be in nature, eat incredible food, play games (Scrabble & Backgammon) and spend time with my closest friends. Also, I travel occasionally…I’ve recently fallen in love with the hot springs found in Costa Rica near the Arenal Volcano. Hot springs in the middle of a lush, tropical setting…pure bliss for me! I’m going back in a few months to celebrate a milestone birthday!
Where can people find you?
Etsy Shop: QueenBeePottery.com
Instagram: instagram.com/QueenBeePottery @queenbeepottery
Etsy Supply Shop: ClayStamps.etsy.com
I publish interviews with artists whose primary medium is clay once a week, every Friday. This regular segment is named “Feature Fridays”. Find past interviews on the Ceramicscapes Blog using the category search function on the right hand sidebar. Interested in being featured? Visit the Apply for Feature Fridays page for more information.